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Are COVID Vaccine Mandates Justified Based on the Data?

By Keith Speights and Brian Orelli, PhD – Sep 4, 2021 at 6:55AM

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There are differences of opinion on this hot-button topic.

COVID-19 vaccine mandates are controversial. But since the Food and Drug Administration fully approved the COVID vaccine developed by Pfizer (PFE -2.01%) and BioNTech (BNTX -3.05%), more organizations have implemented vaccine mandates. In this Motley Fool Live video recorded on Aug. 25, 2021, Motley Fool contributors Keith Speights and Brian Orelli address a viewer's question about whether or not the data justifies vaccine mandates.

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Keith Speights: Now, there's a question that received the most up votes here, Brian, and it relates to a topic we discussed earlier. But the question is: "How can we even begin to justify mandating Pfizer's vaccine? Israel's data showing that even with 85 percent uptake, vaccine passports and everything else, this will never end. Even before delta, we saw waning immunity and there are no third-shot trials which is needed."

The basic question, I guess is, are vaccine mandates really justified based on what we know right now? That's a loaded question, obviously.

Brian Orelli: I think for the good of the community, they're helpful. I can see how people feel like they need their individual rights, so I'm not going to say that we should definitely do it. But as a scientist, I can definitely see why for the good of the community, that we should mandate vaccines.

The reason why we mandate vaccines in schools is because there are some people who just can't take vaccines. Some people, they're choosing not to take the vaccine, those people who can't choose to take the vaccine are being put at risk because now they can get infected by the person who has chosen not to take the vaccine.

While you think you're just doing my choice because I'm putting myself at risk, really you're also putting other people at risk because you're likely going to infect those other people who can't take the vaccine because they take the vaccine and they're immunocompromised so they don't mount a very strong immune response to it. Just keep that in mind when you're choosing not to take the vaccine. You want to take it for your risk, I can't fault you for that, but just realize that you're also putting other people at risk that may end up dying because you decided that you wanted to take the risk to that.

Speights: It is important to understand that the data does show that even with some declining rates of protection, vaccines still provide more protection than being unvaccinated, substantially more protection. Definitely, you could just go to look at the data in terms of hospitalizations. It's abundantly clear that vaccines protect against severe COVID-19, for sure.

I'm not a big fan of mandates, but I do understand it in certain industries. I understand why nursing homes would want to have all their staff vaccinated. I understand why cruise lines will want to have all passengers vaccinated. There's certainly, I think some compelling arguments, especially in certain industries. But then most of the companies that I've seen that are doing so-called mandates, what they're really saying is, we want our employees to be vaccinated. But if not, we're going to test you more frequently for COVID-19. To me, that's a reasonable accommodation.

Keith Speights owns shares of Pfizer. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Stocks Mentioned

Pfizer Stock Quote
Pfizer
PFE
$49.71 (-2.01%) $-1.02
BioNTech Se Stock Quote
BioNTech Se
BNTX
$161.62 (-3.05%) $-5.09

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